February 12, 2011

Pisco Portón

A group of U.S. investors led by Johnny Schuler, founding member and president of the National Tasters Guild of Peru, is introducing Pisco Portón to the United States market in April; good timing, since the grape-based brandy is slowly gaining popularity in the U.S.

This style of pisco is called a "mosto verde," which translates to "green must." That means it is distilled before the fermentation of the grape juice is complete, the most complicated and expensive pisco style. The process lowers the sugar content, making it a bit dryer than most piscos.

It is a powerful unaged brandy, rated at 43% abv (86 proof), made from a blend of Quebranta, Torontel and Albilla, three of the eight grapes allowed by regulation for pisco manufacture.

I tasted a lab sample which, I presume, is identical to what eventually is bottled for commercial distribution.

The nose is a touch stronger in alcohol than a lot of brandies, but that is offset by a crisp, clean base that reminds me of an upscale moonshine. Unlike the practice at many Chilean pisco distilleries -- always something to keep in mind since Peru and Chile, once one nation, have long feuded over who makes the "real" pisco -- Pisco Portó never uses the heads and tails from the distillations, thereby rendering it a smoother product.,

Suggested retail price: $40 to $50, depending on the state.

Go to Dowd's Spirits Notebook.

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